God only knows where she got it. My grandmother combed yard sales, secondhand stores and fabric mill outlets for wool. She’d bring her treasure home to wash, often dye and then cut up into fine strips for her hooked rugs.
I don’t remember her hauling “stuff” home–and my grandfather was not a person who liked to keep things forever–so the history of this 1940’s Brad Keeler lobster dish will remain a mystery. I don’t remember Grandma using it and she had no desire to take it with her when she moved out of her home and into an independent living apartment.
About twenty-five years ago I took my eldest son, Ben, to Nantucket to show off the heritage of my side of the family. I’d never been to the island before, but I’d been working on the genealogy of “my Nantuckets” for over a year. We went to the whaling museum (saw our family’s portraits and memorabilia on the walls), the history center (researching the genealogy), the courthouse (to copy 18th century wills) and took a bus tour of the island. We spent the night in a former sea captain’s home and visited antique stores to admire scrimshaw.
In a fancy antique shop in the center of town I saw a familiar sight: Grandma’s lobster dish. It was priced for close to three hundred dollars. I pointed it out to Ben and told him, “I have one just like this. It was Gigi’s.”
The snotty saleswoman came over and sniffed, “You can’t possibly have one of those.”
“Well, I do,” I countered. But she clearly didn’t believe me, just turned her nose up and made sure I put the dish back on the shelf. It was weird and embarrassing. Ben and I looked at each other and left the store.
I’m not a confrontational person, but I am getting better at standing up to rudeness. In the past it has taken me a long time–days, weeks, months?–to realize I’ve been insulted or dissed.
I’d like to think I’m getting better at it.
Here is what I wish I’d said: Lady, I do have a dish exactly like this one. The oldest house on the island was built by my ancestors, the lighthouse is named after my heroic great-great uncle and the Civil War monument right outside your door has my great-great-grandfather’s name on it. So take your dish and shove it up—
Alas, that rebuke remains a fantasy.
But I still have the dish.
Love it all.